Search All of the Math Forum:
Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by
NCTM or The Math Forum.



Re: J. Escalante and L. Lieber
Posted:
Jun 2, 1995 3:14 PM


>Date: Fri, 2 Jun 1995 13:12:22 0600 >To:"Alfred Barron (908) 7044102" <BARRON%ALLOY.BITNET@pucc.PRINCETON.EDU> >From:powell@math.ed.hawaii.edu (David Scott Powell) >Subject:Re: J. Escalante and L. Lieber > > > > > > >Alfred Barron wrote: > > >>I recently completed the book, 'The Best Teacher in America', which as some >>of you may know is the story of Jamie Escalante, who was, and presumably still >>is, a high school math teacher in California. What is interesting about this >>guy was that he taught calculus to a group of "basic math" kids, relatively >>impoverished (and presumably incorrigible ?) ones at that. Looking back on my >>own lmited experience, I'm certainly impressed with his accomplishment. For >>one it seems to cut across many of the preconceptions which I believe are held >>sacrosant by many educators and academics. I wonder, for example, how well >>modern educational modeling methods would do with data from Escalante's East >>LA schools ? Maybe treat them as outliers ? Any thoughts ? > > >Al, to be fair I must say I didn't read the book but I still have some >observations(I did see the movie "Stand and Deliver") that maybe should be >thought about. > >(1) Personality: It seems to me that part of the reason Mr. Escalante had >such great success(at least in terms of his goals) is because of his very >stricking personality. He seemed to almost will those students to learn and >nearly died from exhaustion doing it. I personally have never met him but I >have taught with a teacher who was very similar as far as results and how much >he could get out of a particular student. I would only caution a comparison >with him in that not many of us are like that or have enough time in our lives >to be able to do something like he has done. How many other Escalantes have >you heard about? > >(2) Situation. Mr. Escalante seemed to be the right person at the right time >in the right place. Could anyone walk into an east LA highschool and do what >he did? Could a white teacher get the same results out of those kids? Could >a teacher who had been in the school for 20 years get the same results? Could >a young teacher with a family get the same results? I am not trying to say >what he has done is not great, but it seems like he was THE man to do it. >Remember, in the movie he gave up his summer(no pay I think) to teach these >kids. How many of us would be willing and how many kids could we get to do >it? > > >(3) Goals. Mr. Escalante had definite goals in mind. Taking kids with not >much success and training them to be great calculus students. If that is the >goal of every teacher, would we really be doing our students a favor? He also >seemed to be able to do what he wanted within the department(possibly because >of his dominating personality). How many teachers of any age or experience >would get that sort of power? > > >There are many other questions but I think if we start comparing ourselves to >isolated examples we will never find a true measure(did that make sense at >all?) of our own abilities, goals and attributes as teachers. > >One persons humble opinion. > > >scott
Scott Powell 1776 University Ave. University Lab School Honolulu, Hi, 96822 (808)9564987 powell@math.ed.hawaii.edu



